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Top 7 3D Texturing Tools 2023

Table of Contents

3D Texturing Tools

In the ever-evolving and intricate realm of 3D visualisation and rendering, texturing stands as a cornerstone, pivotal in infusing life, depth, and unparalleled realism into digital models. As XO3D, one of the UK’s premier 3D animation and rendering companies, we’ve always been at the forefront of harnessing the industry’s most advanced tools and techniques. With a plethora of software options flooding the market, it becomes imperative for professionals, like us, to sift through and identify the crème de la crème. Drawing from our extensive experience and industry insights, we’ve meticulously curated a comprehensive list of the top 10 3D texturing tools. Each of these tools has been tried, tested, and widely adopted by industry-leading professionals, ensuring that they not only meet but often exceed the rigorous demands of modern-day 3D projects.

Here are the top 10 3D texturing tools that XO3D recognises as industry standards in the realm of 3D animation and rendering:

  1. Adobe Substance Painter

    OS:  Windows, macOS, Linux

    Price: £40.45/mo

    Free Trial: 30 days

    Adobe Substance Painter is one of the most revered tools in the 3D texturing domain. As XO3D, we’ve observed its rise and integration into many professional workflows, and here’s a deeper dive into its features and capabilities:

    • Intuitive Interface: Substance Painter boasts a user-friendly interface that is both intuitive for beginners and comprehensive for seasoned professionals. The layout is designed to streamline the texturing process, making it efficient and straightforward.
    • PBR Workflow: One of the standout features of Substance Painter is its Physically-Based Rendering (PBR) workflow. This ensures that textures and materials created in the software are consistent and realistic under various lighting conditions.
    • Particle Brushes: A unique feature, particle brushes allow artists to simulate natural elements like rain, dust, or even rust, giving textures an added layer of realism and complexity.
    • Smart Materials & Masks: These are presets that adapt to any shape or topology of a model, allowing for quick application of complex materials. The masks can detect edges, cavities, and other specific areas of a model to apply wear and tear or other specific details automatically.
    • Seamless Integration: Substance Painter is designed to work seamlessly with other tools in the 3D pipeline. Whether it’s exporting textures to rendering software or importing models from a modelling tool, the process is smooth and hassle-free.
    • Regular Updates: Adobe consistently updates Substance Painter, introducing new features, brushes, and performance improvements. This ensures that the software remains at the cutting edge of 3D texturing technology.
    • Extensive Asset Library: The software comes with a vast library of materials, brushes, and tools. Additionally, users have access to Substance Source, Adobe’s ever-growing online library of PBR materials.

    In conclusion, Adobe Substance Painter is not just a tool; it’s an ecosystem that provides 3D artists with everything they need to create stunning, realistic textures. At XO3D, we appreciate the value such a tool brings to the table, enhancing the quality and efficiency of our 3D solutions.

  2. Adobe Substance Designer

    OS:  Windows, macOS, Linux

    Price: £40.45/mo

    Free Trial: 30 days

    Adobe Substance Designer stands as a paragon in the realm of procedural material creation and texturing. As XO3D, a leading figure in the 3D industry, we’ve witnessed and leveraged the transformative capabilities of this software. Here’s an in-depth exploration of its features and strengths:

    • Node-Based System: At the heart of Substance Designer is its node-based system, which offers artists a visual and intuitive way to create materials. Each node represents a specific operation or function, and by connecting them, users can craft intricate and detailed materials from scratch.
    • Highly Customisable: The procedural nature of Substance Designer means that materials can be easily adjusted and customised. Parameters can be tweaked to achieve the desired look, making it incredibly versatile for various projects.
    • PBR Workflow: Like its counterpart, Substance Painter, Substance Designer is built around the Physically-Based Rendering (PBR) workflow. This ensures that materials are consistent and realistic across different lighting environments.
    • Bakers: Substance Designer comes equipped with a powerful set of bakers. These allow artists to extract map information from 3D models, which can then be used to inform and enhance the material creation process.
    • Integrated Graph View and 3D View: The software seamlessly integrates its graph view (where the node system is displayed) with a 3D view. This allows artists to see real-time updates on a 3D model as they adjust their material nodes.
    • Dynamic Gradient and Pattern Creation: Substance Designer excels in creating intricate patterns and gradients, which can be used as the foundation for more complex materials.
    • Extensive Library & Integration with Substance Source: Users have access to a vast in-built library of nodes and materials. Additionally, integration with Substance Source offers a plethora of high-quality PBR materials ready for use or further customisation.
    • Compatibility: Substance Designer’s materials are compatible with a wide range of 3D software and game engines. This ensures that artists can use the materials they create across various platforms without any hitches.

    In summation, Adobe Substance Designer is a powerhouse for procedural material creation, offering unparalleled flexibility and depth. Recognising its pivotal role in pushing the boundaries of what’s achievable in the domain of 3D texturing.

  3. Mari

    OS:  Windows, macOS, Linux

    Price: £71/mo

    Free Trial: 30 days

    Mari, crafted by The Foundry, has firmly established itself as an industry standard, especially within the demanding environments of the film and VFX sectors. As XO3D, we’ve always kept a keen eye on tools that set the benchmark in the 3D industry, and Mari is undoubtedly one of them. Here’s a deeper exploration of its capabilities and features:

    • High-Resolution Handling: One of Mari’s standout features is its ability to handle multiple high-resolution textures with ease. This is crucial for film-quality assets where every detail matters, and textures often exceed 8K resolution.
    • Layer-Based System: Similar to traditional 2D image editing software, Mari employs a layer-based system, allowing artists to stack, blend, and organise their paint familiarly and intuitively.
    • Advanced Projection Painting: Mari offers a robust projection painting toolset, enabling artists to paint in a 2D view and project that paint onto their 3D models. This is particularly useful for eliminating seams and ensuring consistent detail.
    • Customisable Brushes: Artists have access to a vast array of brushes and can also create custom brushes tailored to specific needs. This flexibility ensures that a wide range of textures and effects can be achieved.
    • Node Graph: For those who prefer a procedural approach, Mari offers a node graph system, allowing for non-destructive and complex texture workflows.
    • UDIM Workflow: Mari was one of the pioneers in supporting UDIMs, a system that allows for multiple texture tiles on a single model. This is a standard in the VFX industry, allowing for varying levels of detail across a model.
    • Real-time Shaders: Artists can view their textures with accurate shaders in real-time, ensuring that the final look in a render or game engine is closely matched within Mari.
    • Extensive Toolset for VFX: Given its roots in the film industry, Mari has a suite of tools tailored for VFX work, including advanced mask generation, ambient occlusion, and detailed curvature maps.

    In essence, Mari is not just a texturing tool but a comprehensive solution tailored for professionals who demand the highest quality and detail in their work.

  4. ZBrush

    OS:  Windows, macOS, Linux

    Price: £26.90/mo

    Free Trial: 14 days

    ZBrush, developed by Pixologic, and is now owned by Maxon. It is predominantly celebrated for its digital sculpting prowess. However, its capabilities extend far beyond mere sculpting, and as XO3D, we’ve always been attuned to the multifaceted nature of such tools. Delving deeper into ZBrush and its texturing capabilities, particularly the poly paint feature, reveals the following:

    • Poly Paint: This feature allows artists to paint directly onto the surface of their 3D models. Unlike traditional texturing methods, polypaint doesn’t rely on UV maps. Instead, it assigns colour to individual polygons, making the process more direct and intuitive.
    • High-Resolution Detail: Given ZBrush’s ability to handle millions of polygons, artists can achieve incredibly detailed and intricate paintwork on their models, capturing even the finest nuances.
    • Seamless Transition between Sculpting and Painting: One of ZBrush’s strengths is the seamless workflow between sculpting and painting. Artists can alternate between adding sculptural details and painting without switching tools or software, ensuring a cohesive and integrated creative process.
    • Material Preview: While painting, artists can apply different materials to their models, allowing for a real-time preview of how the painted details interact with various surface properties.
    • Spotlight projection: This feature enables artists to project photographic references directly onto their models, aiding in the creation of realistic textures and details.
    • UV Master: Should artists decide to transition their poly paint work to a traditional texturing workflow with UVs, ZBrush offers the UV Master plugin. This tool automates the UV unwrapping process, making it easier to export textures for use in other software or rendering engines.
    • Integration with Other Texturing Tools: While ZBrush’s polypaint is powerful, artists often combine it with other texturing tools for more complex projects. ZBrush facilitates easy export of painted models and textures, ensuring compatibility with software like Substance Painter or Mari.

    In summary, ZBrush, while renowned for its sculpting capabilities, offers a robust and intuitive texturing workflow through polypaint.

  5. 3D-Coat

    OS:  Windows, macOS, Linux

    Price: €10.8

    Free Trial: 30 days

    3D-Coat, developed by Pilgway, is a multifaceted tool that seamlessly merges the worlds of 3D sculpting and texturing. As XO3D, we are acutely aware of the tools that offer both versatility and precision in the 3D industry, and 3D-Coat stands out in this regard. Delving into its features and capabilities provides a clearer picture of its strengths:

    • Voxel Sculpting: Unlike traditional polygonal sculpting, 3D-Coat’s voxel-based approach allows artists to sculpt without the constraints of topology. This means they can freely add and subtract volume without worrying about the underlying mesh structure.
    • Layer-Based Texturing: Drawing inspiration from popular 2D image editing software, 3D-Coat employs a layer-based system for texturing. This allows artists to organise, blend, and manage their textures in a familiar and intuitive manner.
    • PBR Texturing: 3D-Coat supports the Physically-Based Rendering (PBR) workflow, ensuring that textures created within the software are consistent and realistic across various lighting conditions.
    • Smart Materials: These are materials with embedded details that automatically adapt to the surface of the model. This means that features like wear, scratches, and rust can be applied in a way that naturally conforms to the model’s geometry.
    • Retopology Tools: One of 3D-Coat’s standout features is its comprehensive set of retopology tools. After sculpting, artists can create a new, optimised mesh topology that’s suitable for animation or game engines.
    • UV Mapping: The software provides a robust set of tools for UV unwrapping and editing, ensuring that textures can be accurately mapped to 3D models.
    • Render Engine: 3D-Coat comes with an integrated render engine, allowing artists to preview their sculpted and textured models in a variety of lighting conditions and environments.
    • Integration with Other Software: 3D-Coat is designed to fit seamlessly into a broader 3D production pipeline. It supports the export of models, textures, and other assets in formats compatible with most major 3D software and game engines.

    In essence, 3D-Coat is a comprehensive tool that caters to a wide range of 3D production needs, from sculpting to texturing to retopology.

  6. Mudbox

    OS:  Windows, macOS, Linux

    Price: £12/mo

    Free Trial: 30 days

    Mudbox, a creation of the renowned Autodesk, is a tool that has carved its niche in the realm of digital sculpting while also offering robust texturing capabilities. Mudbox is a prime example that offers precision and versatility. Here’s a detailed look into its features and strengths:

    • Intuitive Sculpting: Mudbox offers a user-friendly environment for digital sculpting, allowing artists to work with a set of intuitive brushes and tools. The sculpting process in Mudbox is akin to working with real clay, making it accessible for both beginners and seasoned professionals.
    • Layer-Based Painting: One of the standout features of Mudbox is its layer-based painting system. This allows artists to organise their textures in layers, similar to popular 2D image editing software, providing flexibility in blending, editing, and managing textures.
    • High-Resolution Support: Mudbox excels in handling high-resolution meshes, enabling artists to add intricate details to their models. This is particularly beneficial for creating film-quality assets where every nuance matters.
    • Stencils and Stamps: These tools allow artists to project predefined or custom images onto the model, aiding in the creation of detailed and realistic textures. Stencils can be used for larger areas, while stamps can add specific details.
    • Symmetrical Sculpting and Painting: This feature speeds up the creation process by allowing artists to sculpt or paint on one side of the model, with the changes being mirrored on the other side.
    • 3D Layers: This unique feature allows artists to store different sculpting and painting details on separate layers. This means that changes can be toggled on and off, providing a non-destructive workflow.
    • Integration with Autodesk Suite: Being a part of the Autodesk family, Mudbox offers seamless integration with other Autodesk products like Maya and 3ds Max. This ensures a smooth transition of assets across different stages of the production pipeline.
    • Real-time Environment: Mudbox provides a real-time working environment, allowing artists to see the results of their sculpting and painting instantly, ensuring accuracy and reducing the need for guesswork.

    In summary, Mudbox is a tool that strikes a balance between the worlds of digital sculpting and texturing, offering artists a cohesive platform to bring their visions to life.

  7. Quixel Mixer

    OS:  Windows, macOS, Linux

    Price: Starting from FREE

    Free Trial: 30 days

    Quixel Mixer has rapidly gained traction in the 3D industry for its innovative approach to material creation and texturing. At XO3D, we are always on the lookout for tools that streamline workflows while delivering high-quality results, and Quixel Mixer fits this criterion perfectly. Here we delve deeper into its features and functionalities:

    • Fast and Intuitive Workflow: Quixel Mixer is designed with a user-friendly interface that promotes a fast and intuitive workflow. This means artists can quickly create and iterate on materials, saving time and fostering creativity.
    • Mixing Scanned Materials: One of the standout features of Quixel Mixer is its ability to blend multiple scanned materials to create new, unique materials. Artists can leverage the vast library of Megascans, which houses thousands of high-quality scanned materials, to craft their textures.
    • Non-Destructive Procedural Textures: The software allows for non-destructive texturing, meaning artists can experiment and tweak their materials without losing any previous work. This procedural approach also facilitates the creation of complex materials with rich details.
    • Smart Materials and Masks: Quixel Mixer includes a range of smart materials and masks that adapt to the 3D geometry of the model, automating the process of adding realistic details such as wear and tear.
    • Real-Time Preview: Artists can preview their materials in real-time, under different lighting conditions, ensuring that they get a realistic representation of how the materials will look in the final render or game engine.
    • 3D Painting: Apart from material creation, Quixel Mixer offers 3D painting capabilities, allowing artists to add finer details to their models directly within the software.
    • Export Options: Quixel Mixer supports a wide range of export options, facilitating easy integration with other 3D software and game engines. Artists can export materials with all the necessary maps and shaders for a seamless transition into other parts of the production pipeline.
    • Integration with Unreal Engine: Given that Quixel is part of the Epic Games family, Mixer offers seamless integration with Unreal Engine, one of the leading game development platforms, ensuring a streamlined workflow for game developers.

    In conclusion, Quixel Mixer stands as a versatile tool in the 3D texturing landscape, offering a blend of speed, quality, and innovation.

In the ever-evolving landscape of 3D visualisation and rendering, the tools at an artist’s disposal play a pivotal role in determining the quality and authenticity of the final output. From sculpting intricate details to crafting lifelike textures, each software mentioned in this blog serves a unique purpose, pushing the boundaries of what’s achievable in the 3D domain. At XO3D, our commitment to excellence drives us to harness the best in the industry, ensuring that our clients receive unparalleled results. As technology continues to advance, so will the tools and techniques, and we remain excited and poised to embrace the future of 3D innovation. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a budding artist, we hope this exploration has provided valuable insights and perhaps introduced you to a new tool to enhance your creative journey.

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